1902 Encyclopedia > Mainz, Germany


MAINZ, or METZ (in French, MAYENCE), the largest town in the grand•duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, one of the strongest fortresses in Germany, and formerly the seat of an archbishop and elector, is situated on a rising ground on the left bank of the Rhine, nearly opposite the influx of the Main. The fortifications, which consist of three enceintes with a series of outlying forts, embrace the sin:di town of Castel on the opposite bank, and have recently been widened so as to admit of a large extension of the town. Mainz is connected with Castel by a bridge of boats, and the Rhine is also spanned there by a railway bridge. The interior of the town consists chiefly of narrow and irregular streets, but the oldest part of all, to the west, was almost entirely destroyed by the explosion of a powder-magazine in 1857, and has been rebuilt in a much improved style. There tire also several handsome modern streets on the side next the Rhine, which is bordered by a fine quay, upwards of 300 feet in breadth. To the south lies the Neue Anlage, a park laid out on the site of the chateau of Favorite, where the duke of Brunswick signed his famous manifesto to the French people in 1792. The principal object of historical and architectural interest in Mainz is the grand old cathedral, an imposing Romanesque edifice with numerous Gothic additions and details. It was originally erected between 975 and 1009, but has since been repeatedly burned down and rebuilt, and in its present form dates chiefly from the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries.. The largest of its six towers is 300 feet in height. The whole building was restored by order of Napoleon in 1814, and another thorough renovation has been recently ni progress. The interior contains the tombs of Bomiace, the first archbishop of Mainz, of Frauenlob the minnesinger, and of most of the archiepiscopal electors. Mainz possesses other eight Roman Catholic churches, the most noteworthy of which are those of St Ignatius, with a finely painted ceiling, and St Stephen, built in 1318, and restored after the explosion of 1857. The old electoral palace, erected in 1627-78, now contains valuable collections of Roman and Germanic antiquities, a picture gallery, and a library of 130,000 volumes, including several productions of Gutenberg, Fust, and Schoffer. Among the other principal buildings are the palace of the grand-duke, built in 1731-39 as a lodge of the Teutonic Order, the theatre, the arsenal, the Government house, the - commandant's residence, and several fine private houses. A. handsome statue of Gutenberg, by Thor waldsen, was erected at Mainz in 1837, MAINZ and the town is also embellished with a statue of Schiller and two architectural fountains. Mainz still retains many relics of the Roman period, the most important of which is the Eigelstein, a monument believed to have been erected by the Roman legions in honour of Drusus. It stands within the citadel, which occupies• the site of the Roman castrum. A little to the south-west of the town are the remains of a large Roman aqueduct, of which upwards of sixty pillars are still standing. The educational and scientific institutions of Mainz include an episcopal seminary, a gymnasium, a society for literature and art, a musical society, and an antiquarian society, the flue collection of which has been mentioned above. The university, founded in 1477, was suppressed in 1791.

The site of Mainz would seem to mark it out naturally as a great centre of trade, but the illiberal rule of the archbishops and its military importance seriously hampered its commercial and industrial development, and prevented it from rivalling its neighbour Frankfort. It is now, however, the chief emporium of the Rhenish wine traffic, and also carries on an extensive transit trade in grain, timber, flour, and nil. The natural facilities for carriage by water are supplemented by seven railways. The principal manufactures of Mainz are leather goods, furniture, carriages, chemicals, musical instruments, and carpets, for the first two of which it has attained a wide reputation. Mainz is the seat of the administrative and judicial authorities of the province of Rheinhessen, and also of a Roman Catholic bishop. The population in 1880 amounted to 61,322, including a garrison of about 8000 men. Fully two-thirds are Roman Catholics. Castel has about 5000 inhabitants.

Mainz, one of the oldest cities in Germany, was orig:nally a Celtic settlement. Its strategic importance was early recognized by the Romans, and in 13 B.C. Drusus, the son-in-law of Augustus, erected a fortified camp (castrum) there, to which a smaller caStelluin (the modern Castel) on the opposite bank was afterwards added. The Celtic name became Latinized as Maguntiacum or Hoguntiacum, and a town, Maguntia, gradually arose, which became the capital of Germania Superior. In the " Volkerwanderungen," or migrations of peoples during the gradual dissolution of the Roman empire, Mainz was destroyed on different occasions by the Alemanni, the Vandals, and the Huns (451 A.D.). Christianity seems to have been introduced at an early period, and soon after its recovery from the last of these calamities we find it the seat of a bishop. In the middle of the 8th century, under Boniface, the see became an archbishopric, to which the primacy of Germany was annexed. Charlemagne built a bridge here and granted the town important privileges, and in the following centuries it was the seat of several diets and ecclesiastical councils. In 1254 Mainz was the head and mainspring of the league of Rhenish towns, and had attained to such a pitch of commercial prosperity that it was known as the " Gohlene Mainz." Soon after this time it is believed that the population was as numerous as at the present day. In 1462, during the strife between the rival archbishops Diether von Isenburg and Adolph von Nassau, Mainz espoused the cause of the former, but was taken by the latter, who had the support of the emperor, lost its imperial privileges, and was henceforth subject to the archbishops. Many of its citizens were driven into exile, and carried into other lands a knowledge of the art of printing, which had been invented at Mainz by Gutenberg in 1440. In the Thirty Years' War Mainz was occupied by the Swedes and the French. In 1792 it enthusiastically welcomed the principles of the French Revolution, and opened its gates to the Republican troops under General Custine. It was recaptured in the following year, but was ceded to France by the peace of Campo Formic) in 1797. In 1814 it was restored to Germany and handed over to the grand-duchy of Hesse, remaining, however, a fortress of the German Confederation, garrisoned in common by Prussian, Austrian, and Hessian troops. Since 1871 it has been a fortress of the German empire.

For further information consult Schaab, Geschichte der Stadt Mainz, 1841-44 ; K. Klein, Mainz and seine Umgebungen, 1868 ; Iloekenheimer, Beitrage zur geschichte der Stadt Mainz, 1874, and Mainz and /,'Ing'ebungcn, 1880; Werner, Der Dom von Mainz and seine Denkmaler, 1827-36. (J. F. M.)

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